….but we are all fabulous.

My struggle with mindfulness

The idea of mindfulness seduces me. I have dabbled with it for 5 years – I have attended a one day workshop in Buddhist meditation, several Buddhist evening sessions, a Buddhist welcome to beginners evening lecture and I have enjoyed the secular HeadSpace and love the chime in Kabat-Zinn’s five minute mediation.


The Big Buddha, Lantau Island, Hong Kong

I have dabbled with yoga and read Thich Nhat Hanh and both Chodrons and Jack Kornfield and  Ruby Wax and Eat Pray Love and I have attended counselling with a wonderful woman who believes in the power of mindfulness.

I am drawn to a weekend retreat and I fantasise about being a mentally and physically flexible and balanced person ideally with a Balinese backdrop.

So what’s the problem???

I struggle.

I struggle to fit in a daily meditation of even as little as 10 minutes – as soon as I think this would be a wonderful thing, it goes the same way as my desire to go the gym, attend piano lessons and generally become a BETTER PERSON. I flounder. I do other things – my bathroom becomes clean enough to eat off and my marking gets done.

To tell the truth at times as I go through life, I think I am already so mindful that I will burst if I allow in any more. 1 more wafer thin mint of mindfulness….

I am mindful every moment that we will die. I walk through life with this knowledge on my shoulder – sometimes scary, sometimes depressing, sometimes freeing, sometimes warm and friendly, but always always there.  It makes me look around me and smell the air, hold my partner’s hand more tightly, send my distant brother my love and regret and flex with hope and excitement about what the future will hopefully hold.

But is this really mindfulness? I have not yet reached the day when I am able to observe my thoughts passing through my mind and not attach to them. I am better able to see them for what they are – just thoughts, not fearful or fanciful prophecies for what is to come, but I am not yet able to experience the peace that observing and not attaching will bring.

So I am mindful and yet not mindful.

I read about those who have embraced mindfulness, who write of the positive impact on their lives that HeadSpace has had. But I never read about those people who struggle, except for monks and nuns who struggle in a way that Olympic athletes struggle to train, not in the way that ordinary mortal struggle. Am I really so unusual?

I suspect that I am not. I suspect that if I persevere and think and read and struggle that I will unravel at least part of the mystery that eludes me.  But I also suspect that this struggle is part of the process of mindfulness, just one that is less easy to document in ‘easy to follow’ 1-2-3 steps.


One comment on “My struggle with mindfulness

  1. smilecalm
    January 5, 2015

    mindfulness can beneficial in of itself. paying attention is a good idea.
    mindfulness is always of something. what shall one pay attention to?
    lots of things going on inside and outside.
    in the secularization of mindfulness, it has largely become a form of mental health therapy. everyone wants to be well, happy and suffer less.
    those who have cultivated significant mindfulness in their lives, that i have encountered, are diligent Buddhist practitioners who practice “the noble eightfold path” which follows the other 7, along with mindfulness. having a sangha, or support group, or a group of friends who are also diligently practicing is most helpful. i think doing it on one’s own would be challenging!

    wishing you joyful success 🙂

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